Choosing the right wood for your project

The grouping of timber species under ‘hardwood’ or ‘softwood’ should be considered to be general classifications.

Softwood is a term used to describe timber sourced from coniferous or needle-leaved trees and hardwood from deciduous and evergreen broad-leaved trees.

The terminology cannot be relied upon to describe accurately the durability of the timber and there are notable exceptions such as balsa wood which is one of the lightest, least dense woods but also falls within the category of a hardwood.

As a general rule, however, hardwoods tend to be more dense than softwoods and are, therefore, sturdier and more weather resistant.

At Parsons Joinery we predominantly use four species of timber for our joinery:

European Oak

A hardwood, is one of the most durable timbers for exterior use.  Oak can be treated with oil with UV filters to preserve its blond appearance or can be left untreated and will gradually fade leaving it silver gray.  It  is one of the most expensive hardwoods and should not be painted.

Utile and Sapele

Commonly used tropical hardwoods, suitable for exterior use and are a cheaper alternative to European oak.  They have a reddish colour and can be stained, varnished or painted.  We use utile or sapele for door and window cills when the rest of the joinery is manufactured in softwood as the cill requires more durability than the vertical components in a window or door.


Is a tropical hardwood, suitable for exterior joinery, is a cheaper alternative to European oak and is often used as a substitute for oak because it has a lighter more yellow hue than utile and sapele.  Iroko is often used for unpainted door cills.


Is the preferred softwood choice for exterior joinery and this is brush coated with preservative prior to the paint finish to prolong the life of the joinery.

Wood is a natural product therefore colour and grain will vary from the illustrations shown. Please contact us if you would like more information.

What is Accoya?

Accoya is one of the latest high technology advances in timber.  The accoya process takes sustainably sourced, fast growing softwoods and treats these in a non toxic process that ‘enables nature’ to create a durable and stable product with good environmental credentials.  Accoya boards consist of sections of timber laminated together to provide a more stable product which is less wasteful.